American Chinese cuisine, known in the United States as simply Chinese cuisine, is a style of food developed by Americans of Chinese descent and served in many North American Chinese restaurants

American Chinese cuisine, known in the United States as simply Chinese cuisine, is a style of food developed by Americans of Chinese descent and served in many North American Chinese restaurants. The dishes typically served in restaurants cater to American tastes and differ significantly from Chinese cuisine in China itself. Although China has various regional cuisines, Cantonese cuisine has been the most influential regional cuisine in the development of American Chinese food.[1][2]Chinese immigrants arrived in the United States due to the high demand for miners and railroad workers. As large groups of Chinese immigrants arrived, Chinatowns began to emerge in America where immigrants also started their own small businesses, including restaurants and laundry services.[3] In the 19th century, Chinese in San Francisco operated sophisticated and sometimes luxurious restaurants patronized mainly by Chinese, while restaurants in smaller towns (mostly owned by Chinese immigrants) served what their customers requested, ranging from pork chop sandwiches and apple pie to beans and eggs. Since the beginning, Chinese restaurants were opened by Chinese immigrants and many of them were self-taught family cooks who improvised on different cooking methods and ingredients.[3] These smaller restaurants developed American Chinese cuisine where they modified their food to suit a more American palate. First catering to miners and railroad workers, they established new eateries in towns where Chinese food was completely unknown, adapting local ingredients and catering to their customers' tastes.[4] Even with new flavours and dishes, these Chinese restaurants have been cultural ambassadors to Americans.[5]In the process, cooks adapted southern Chinese dishes such as chop suey and developed a style of Chinese food not found in China. Restaurants (along with Chinese laundries) provided an ethnic niche for small businesses at a time when the Chinese people were excluded from most jobs in the wage economy by ethnic discrimination or lack of language fluency.[6]As Chinese restaurants became more popular, newer Chinese restaurants opened to cater to the tourists. As tourists flocked to these new Chinese restaurants, many of the smaller restaurants resolved to "take out". "Take out" also became very popular amongst the Americans and eventually, it was evident that Chinese restaurants no longer catered mainly for Chinese customers.[7] With the continuing success of American Chinese cuisine, including its portrayal to mainland Chinese audiences through the medium of American television sitcoms, American Chinese restaurants have opened in China itself. These can preserve authenticity by importing necessary non-Chinese ingredients such as "Philadelphia cream cheese, Skippy peanut butter, cornflakes and English mustard powder".[8]In 2011, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History displayed some of the historical background and cultural artifacts of American Chinese cuisine in its exhibit Sweet & Sour: A Look at the History of Chinese Food in the United States.[9]American Chinese food typically treats vegetables as a side dish or garnish, while traditional cuisines of China emphasize vegetables. This can be seen in the use of carrots and tomatoes. Native Chinese cuisine makes frequent use of Asian leaf vegetables like bok choy and kai-lan and puts a greater emphasis on fresh meat and seafood.Stir frying, pan frying, and deep frying tend to be the most common Chinese cooking techniques used in American Chinese cuisine, which are all easily done using a wok (a Chinese frying pan with bowl-like features). The food also has a reputation for high levels of MSG to enhance the flavor. Market forces and customer demand have encouraged many restaurants to offer "MSG Free" or "No MSG" menus, or to omit this ingredient on request.American Chinese cuisine often uses ingredients not native to and very rarely used in China. One such example is the common use of western broccoli (xīlán, 西蘭) instead of Chinese broccoli (Kai-lan, 芥蘭 gàilán) in American Chinese cuisine. Occasionally, western broccoli is also referred to as sai lan fa (in Cantonese 西蘭花) in order not to confuse the two styles of broccoli. Among Chinese speakers, however, it is typically understood that one is referring to the leafy vegetable unless otherwise specified.This is also the case with the words for carrot (luo buo or lo bac, or hong luo buo, hong meaning "red") and onion (cong). Lo bac, in Cantonese, refers to the daikon, a large, pungent white radish. The orange western carrot is known in some areas of China as "foreign Daikon" (or more properly hung lo bac in Cantonese, hung meaning "red"). When the word for onion, chung, is used, it is understood that one is referring to "green onions" (otherwise known to English-speakers as "scallions" or "spring onions"). The larger many-layered onion bulb common in the United States is called yang cong. This translates as "western onion". These names make it evident that the American broccoli, carrot, and onion are not indigenous to China, and therefore are less common in the traditional cuisines of China.Since tomatoes are New World plants, they are also relatively new to China and Chinese cuisine. Tomato-based sauces can be found in some American Chinese dishes such as the "beef and tomato". Hence, if a dish contains significant amounts of any of these ingredients, it has most likely been Americanized. Egg fried rice in American Chinese cuisine is also prepared differently, with more soy sauce added for more flavor whereas the traditional egg fried rice in Chinese culture uses less soy sauce. Some food styles such as Dim sum were also modified to fit American palates, such as added batter for fried dishes and extra soy sauce.Salads containing raw or uncooked ingredients are rare in traditional Chinese cuisine, as are Japanese style sushi or sashimi. However, an increasing number of American Chinese restaurants, including some upscale establishments, have started to offer these items in response to customer demand.Ming Tsai, the owner of the Blue Ginger restaurant in Wellesley, Massachusetts, said that American Chinese restaurants typically try to have food representing 3-5 regions of China at one time, have chop suey, or have "fried vegetables and some protein in a thick sauce", "eight different sweet and sour dishes", or "a whole page of 20 different chow meins or fried rice dishes". Tsai said "Chinese-American cuisine is 'dumbed-down' Chinese food. It’s adapted… to be blander, thicker and sweeter for the American public".[10]Most American Chinese establishments cater to non-Chinese customers with menus written in English or containing pictures. If separate Chinese-language menus are available, they typically feature delicacies like liver, chicken feet, or other meat dishes that might deter American customers. In Chinatown, New York, the restaurants were known for having a "phantom" menu with food preferred by ethnic Chinese, but believed to be disliked by non-Chinese Americans.[11]Dishes that often appear on American Chinese restaurant menus include:Since the early 1990s, many American Chinese restaurants influenced by California cuisine have opened in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The trademark dishes of American Chinese cuisine remain on the menu, but there is more emphasis on fresh vegetables, and the selection is vegetarian-friendly.This new cuisine has exotic ingredients like mangos and portobello mushrooms. Brown rice is often offered as an optional alternative to white rice. Some restaurants substitute grilled wheat flour tortillas for the rice pancakes in mu shu dishes. This occurs even in some restaurants that would not otherwise be identified as California Chinese, both the more Westernized places and the more authentic places. There is a Mexican bakery that sells some restaurants thinner tortillas made for use with mu shu. Mu shu purists do not always react positively to this trend.[22]In addition, many restaurants serving more native-style Chinese cuisines exist, due to the high numbers and proportion of ethnic Chinese in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Restaurants specializing in Cantonese, Sichuanese, Hunanese, Northern Chinese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, and Hong Kong traditions are widely available, as are more specialized restaurants such as seafood restaurants, Hong Kong-style diners and cafes (also known as Cha chaan teng (茶餐廳 chácāntīng)), dim sum teahouses, and hot pot restaurants. Many Chinatown areas also feature Chinese bakeries, boba milk tea shops, roasted meat, vegetarian cuisine, and specialized dessert shops. Chop suey is not widely available in San Francisco, and the city's chow mein is different from Midwestern chow mein.Authentic restaurants with Chinese-language menus may offer "yellow-hair chicken" (黃毛雞, Cantonese Yale: wòhng mouh gāai, Pinyin: huángmáo jī, literally yellow-feather chicken), essentially a free-range chicken, as opposed to typical American mass-farmed chicken. Yellow-hair chicken is valued for its flavor, but needs to be cooked properly to be tender due to its lower fat and higher muscle content. This dish usually does not appear on the English-language menu.Dau Miu (Chinese: 豆苗; pinyin: dòumiáo) is a Chinese vegetable that has become popular since the early 1990s, and now not only appears on English-language menus, usually as "pea shoots", but is often served by upscale non-Asian restaurants as well. Originally it was only available during a few months of the year, but it is now grown in greenhouses and is available year-round.Hawaiian-Chinese food developed a bit differently from the continental United States. Owing to the diversity of ethnicities in Hawaii and the history of the Chinese influence in Hawaii, resident Chinese cuisine forms a component of the cuisine of Hawaii, which is a fusion of different culinary traditions. Some Chinese dishes are typically served as part of plate lunches in Hawaii. The names of foods are different as well, such as Manapua, from Hawaiian meaning "chewed up pork" for dim sum bao, though the meat is not necessarily pork.The perception that American Jews eat at Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day is documented in media as a common stereotype with a basis in fact.[23][24][25] The tradition may have arisen from the lack of other open restaurants on Christmas Day, as well as the close proximity of Jewish and Chinese immigrants to each other in New York City. It has been portrayed in film and television.